Motional, an autonomous vehicle company that is born out of a four billion dollar joint venture between Aptiv and Hyundai, has recently announced that they are going to expand their West Coast operations and their presence in California by opening a new operations facility in Los Angeles.
With a motive to support testing on public roads, hiring more engineers, and adding an office in Silicon Valley, the team has come up with this decision. The development follows 18 months of growth for Motional during which they closed the formation of their joint venture, extended their Asia operations to Seoul, and have increased their headcount by almost 50%.
And the operations facility will support most of Motional’s plans to begin mapping growth and eventually testing its autonomous vehicles on public roads. Motional’s team states that they will be using the all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 5.
This Hyundai Robo Taxi was revealed in February of this year and its consumer release date is expected later this year. It will be fully integrated with Motional’s driverless system and will be active with the hardware and software that is needed for level 4 autonomous driving capabilities such as lidar, rather, and cameras.
So basically, level 4 is an SAE designation which means the vehicle will handle all the driving operations in certain conditions and environments. But for now, the testing will involve autonomous vehicles with the safety driver behind the wheel.
Motional has also conducted self-driving testing in Singapore, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, and Boston for now. The company has not yet been allowed to test its vehicles without a driver operator behind the wheel. But their vehicles are often exposed to complex and huge traffic roadways, left and right-hand driving, and different environmental and climatic conditions.
Following their announcement last December, their next move will be launching fully driverless robot taxi services in the major cities in the US by 2023 using the Lyft transportation network.
This Hyundai IONIQ 5 has similar features to that of autonomous roboshuttle launched by Hyundai because they both are powered by autonomous driving and artificial intelligence.
And Karl Lagnemma, President and CEO of Motional also shared his views about this expansion.
“This expansion is the latest in our growth trajectory and will position Motional with the talent, testing capabilities, and R&D resources we need to meet our go-to-market roadmap,”
said Karl Lagnemma.
And beyond Los Angeles, they are also planning to open a new office in the Bay Area. Adding on to that, Motional is one of the first AV companies to establish their presence in Los Angeles when they opened their Santa Monica facility in the year 2016.
Since then their Southern California team has grown rapidly, they are now representing integral functions of Motional’s machine learning and hardware groups. And they have also mentioned that their next stop will be California.